HIV - The Basics
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks our immune system to make us more
susceptible to infections and disease. HIV is acquired through coming into
contact with infected bodily fluids, such as blood, semen or vaginal
secretions. In the UK, HIV continues to be on the rise and it could affect
anyone who does not practise safer sex. You can protect yourself from
contracting HIV by using a condom.
HIV - The Symptoms
Most people who get HIV will have some symptoms within a few weeks of
acquiring the virus. It is important to point out that not all people
recently infected will have noticeable symptoms so do not use lack of
symptoms as an excuse not to be tested! The initial symptoms usually include
severe flu-like symptoms accompanied by a sore throat and a rash on the
chest. After a few weeks the symptoms will go and there may be no further
symptoms for many years.
HIV - The Myths
There are many myths surrounding HIV. One of the most often quoted is that
it is something that only affects gay men. While gay men are
disproportionately affected, the majority of new diagnoses in the UK are in
the heterosexual population and a third of all HIV diagnoses are in women.
HIV is quite difficult to get so just coming into contact with an infected
person will not lead to you putting yourself at risk of HIV. HIV is carried
in blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. You cannot catch HIV
by sharing a tooth brush or through coming in into contact with someone's
saliva, e.g. by sharing a glass.
Women with HIV are perfectly able to have children without passing HIV
onto their offspring. Around 99% of HIV infected women have children who
are not infected. Clearly it is important to know the status of the mother
to be able to protect the baby.
A person who knows his or her HIV + status and is on medication is less
likely to be able to pass on the infection than someone who is HIV + and
is unaware of his or her status. Being on treatment reduces the viral load and
makes people less infectious.
HIV - The Tests
There are different types of HIV tests available. Some clinics offer instant
tests but they can be less reliable than laboratory based testing. At The STI
Clinic we use 5th generation lab tests that can detect an HIV infection as early
as 10 days post-exposure. Our tests are quick and accurate. We will have results
to you in around 4 hours of the sample arriving at our lab. All HIV tests with
a positive result must be followed up with a second test to confirm the
original result. You can combine your HIV test with tests for other infections.
How Our Service Works
- Order your
STI test online
- Discrete package
arrives next day
- Provide a sample and post in pre-paid envelope
- Access results online
- Order within
- for next day delivery